“It’s all going to the same playbook over and over,” admits Joyful Noise director Todd Graff. “Not only is it people performing, but performing in competitions and benefits and big final numbers.”
With a filmography that also includes the musical features Bandslam (2009) and CAMP (2003), it is hard to deny the existence of a pattern on the director's resume. Projects that celebrate diversity among young performers have become Graff’s de facto calling card. It's a seemingly natural extension of the career he launched as a pre-teen actor on The Electric Company, the landmark 1970s TV variety show that famously introduced to wider audiences a young—though by no means teenaged—Morgan Freeman.
Back Stage caught up with Mr. Graff in between final sound-mixing sessions for Noise to reflect on the 10 years -- and three seasons of Glee -- since the making of CAMP, and the joys of being “pigeonholed.” (We should all be so lucky.)
Billed as "a comedy about drama" and released to positive reviews but little promotion on the arthouse circuit, CAMP may not have garnered much attention at the box office, but thanks to DVD and frequent airings on IFC, the film steadily earned bona-fide cult favorite status among legions of young performers who could appreciate its spot-on ribbing of the hilariously age-inappropriate repertoire sometimes found in adolescent theater programs.